PARIS: France’s highest constitutional authority will on Thursday issue a keenly-awaited verdict on whether an immigration bill adopted under pressure from the far-right is in line with its basic law.
The bill is one of the flagship reforms of President Emmanuel Macron’s second term but its text had to be hardened under pressure from the right and caused a revolt among lawmakers from the ruling party.
It makes access to family reunification and social benefits tougher, introduces immigration quotas determined by parliament and includes measures for dual-national convicts being stripped of French nationality.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who has championed the bill, acknowledged that certain “measures are manifestly and clearly contrary to the constitution.”
In an effort to calm tensions and find a solution, Macron submitted the legislation to the Constitutional Council for review.
The Council has the power to strike out some or even all of the legislation if deemed out of step with the constitution.
Macron defended the legislation, however, saying it was needed to reduce illegal immigration but also to facilitate the integration of documented arrivals.
But dozens of NGOs have slammed what they described as potentially the “most regressive” immigration law in decades.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets across the country at the weekend to protest the measures.
The bill comes as Macron seeks to curb the rapid rise of the far-right, expected to make considerable gains in June’s European elections.
But some political observers accused Macron of seeking to pass the buck onto the Constitutional Council.
“It’s a dangerous game because you can never prejudge the Constitutional Council’s decision, and because it dishonours the Council and the constitution,” said Jean-Philippe Derosier, a constitutional law expert.